“If I were her, I would have euthanasia done.” Those were the words typed by a woman in response to seeing a video showing my neurological impairments. My husband and others were graciously trying to garner funds to improve my condition. To give a chance at- hopefully- a more functional life.
This woman’s response said the opposite. “Die with dignity” was the message implied. I will leave the statement at “implied” because I cannot read into her comment too much because I do not personally know her. I did not take the comment too much to heart, but my husband did.
To me, it was more or less puzzling. Did my condition mark me as less of a person? If someone could comment (somewhat brazenly yet flippantly) that death should be a viable possibility, what does this mean for those who have disabilities?
This notion did not sink into my psyche until I was reading Nancy Pearcey’s Saving Leonardo which touched on the matter of bioethics and the philosophical underpinnings of personhood. When does one become a person, and when does someone cease their personhood?
Does personhood begin when the feeling of pain emerges- and when do we even know when this begins? Does personhood begin when someone is autonomous- evident they can make their own choice? What choices would even mark autonomy? In infant years? Or would it take so long as embarking on the years of toddler years as some have remarkably postulated?
Is an infant a person?
Is a toddler a person?
Is an old man hooked up to a feeding tube a person?
Was I person?
There were frightening moments I hate to traverse back to. Moments where I would be asked a question and immediately go into a seizure because my processing ability just wasn’t there.
Did I cease my personhood? Did my personhood die when there was still a pulse and air in my lungs?
I am still very much reliant on help. Humility hits deeply when urinals have to be emptied, when I’ve had to be cleaned up after, when I’ve gone to a park and needed to be given emergency meds quickly to subdue my episodes. I am strangely dependent in my twenties. Admittedly, I am sometimes in denial of my condition, and when I’m not, the reality will cut all too deeply. I’m still left with the nagging question, “am I worth it?” The words saturated by a world askew as to what even defines a person will hit. Am I less of a person? Am I worth it to live?
Maybe I didn’t realize the words of the culture fractured my own worldview. Did I cease my own personhood in my own eyes? My newfound inferiority complex will kick in and sometimes respond with a shaky “yes.”
Since I didn’t know where this woman who brought up the euthanasia topic was coming from, I would now like to know was I less of a person in her eyes? Was death a better option in her eyes than saving treatment?
Was I still a person?
I wanted to mention that these words were in a journal for a couple of months before they were on this blog. I am not always up for blogging, but I thought it was an important time to discuss these matters with the release of the movie, Me Before You, a movie exalting assisted suicide for the disabled. Although it is fictional, and fiction can be moving, it can move us in a direction of thought in which we never filtered through the consequences. Who is and who isn’t a person according to this narrative? Who has a life worth living and who doesn’t?
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